• It's Chicago's turn to host the hottest autos
  • Around 1,000 vehicles expected
  • Indoor tracks and outdoor rides

The 2014 Chicago Auto Show isn't going to be like other motor shows this year. The Chicago show is always a bit different, thanks to its sheer scale. Imagine events like Detroit and Geneva in the same light as a band playing in a TV studio. Then think of Chicago as a full-on, arena-sized concert with all that extra energy.

This one is for the buyers. They can see the same model in a couple of different trims because the venue, McCormick Place, is large enough to hold a few motor shows simultaneously.

Having one million square feet to play with (and making this the largest car show in North America) gives automobile companies the chance to shake things up. Jeep and Toyota usually construct indoor tracks so people can see how a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee or a 2014 Toyota Tundra, for example, handle surfaces other than plain old asphalt. Toyota's track even has a water crossing. Other makers will also be offering outdoor rides.

Naturally, there will be launches. The 2015 Subaru Legacy is a perfect example. The production version of this midsize sedan follows on from a concept shown at last year's Los Angeles show.

We'll also be looking for a Nissan Concept. We suspect it's an early version of the upcoming, all-new Nissan Frontier pickup. We'll be getting a closer look at some commercial vehicles too, like a Police Package version of the all-new 2015 Chevy Tahoe and a compact cargo van from Chevrolet.

So far, we've only seen pictures of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator premium full-size SUV. In Chicago, it will be there in all its metallic, three-dimensional glory.

Diesel and luxury don't always go together, especially in the middle of the United States. So the debut of BMW's 740Ld xDrive illustrates how the Second City often comes up with some firsts. There hasn't been a diesel 7 Series in the United States before now. This version comes as a long-wheelbase model with all-wheel drive, ideal for negotiating that freezing February Midwest weather in comfort and style.

Many stars of January's Detroit show will be in attendance, including the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup, 2015 Honda Fit and 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

It's not a new model, but the 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad marks the debut of a new trim level with a dedicated appearance package for this midsize crossover SUV.

Press days are Feb. 6-7. AutoTrader.com will have comprehensive coverage of all the cars and trucks being launched. There are usually a few surprises at Chicago, so keep checking in.

The 2014 Chicago Auto Show opens to the public on Feb. 8 and runs through Feb. 17. If you live in the Chicago area and are planning to attend the show, you can get discount tickets here.

What it means to you: For Chicagoans, it's a chance to see all the exciting new metal up close and often on the move. For the rest of us, perhaps our next vehicle purchase will be unveiled here. Either way, a good car show is always a welcome event.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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